For 50 controversial years, the defining division in Quebec politics was between sovereignists and federalists. “Should Quebec Stay in Canada?” It was the best conceptual question.
But last week, when Premier François Legault exchanged thorny words with rising opposition star Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois in South Africa.lonely blue A new political axis was born of the National Assembly. Call it “les voxes” versus “les duplists”.
The division is not about economics or freedom, but about issues of race and religion, whose primary importance in Quebec was once again borne out by this year’s federal election. And although the division stems from a pair of insults thrown on the floor of the provincial legislature, it reveals a deep realignment in Quebec’s political class that is being mirrored around the democratic world, by traditional standards of left and right. Identity away and toward a preoccupation.
The stampede began on 15 September, when in 2012 the leader of the “Maple Spring” student protest and now parliamentary leader of the left-wing Quebec Solidaire Mr. Nadeau-Dubois rose in the assembly and accused Mr. Legault of copying. Maurice Duplessis. It was meant as a scathing rebuke: “The Boss” ruled Quebec in 1936 and 1959 with a mix of Catholic piety, anti-communism, and Quebec nationalism, while openly persecuting religious minorities such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and others. suppression of dissent. His time in power is still often referred to as The Great Darkness.
The current prime minister, Mr Nadeau-Dubois argued, was channeling his infamous predecessor to participate in his support for Bill 21, a controversial piece of provincial law that bans the wearing of visible religious symbols by certain public servants. , “With Membership in Quebec. The Nation.”
Clearly enraged, Mr Legault counterattacked that the majority of Quebecers support the religious-symbol law. Duplessis, he said, “had many faults, but he defended his nation. He was not a wake up Like the leader of the Quebec Solidaire. “
A surprising wave of laughter erupted in the Blue Room; The Quebec media has since been teasing about Mr Legault’s choice of the adjective. Why were the premiers of North America’s only majority francophone jurisdiction to use the term popularized by Black activists to describe a vigilante about social injustice? Why was he using it as a put-down for not mentioning a noun?
Asked to define “un wake” the next day, Mr Legault offered an original contribution to the Quebec vernacular, saying that to him it meant “someone who wants to make us feel guilty about protecting the nation of Quebec”. Is. [and] protect your values. Google searches for the word explosion in Quebec.
But if the premire’s particular shine on the term was novel, it was not used by conservatives in the province. Over the past few years, columnists for the influential Quebec media group have become particularly enamored of using “wake up” in English, as a slang for liberals and leftists who are overly sensitive about race and gender. , a trend on the American right as well. Benot Mélancón, professor of literature at the University of Montreal, searched a media database to find that, since early last year, the term has appeared more than 2,000 times in francophone outlets.
The term entered the political bloodstream of Quebec as purely a pejorative; Virtually no one in the province owns the label. While a French politician running to become the Green Party’s presidential candidate recently embraced “waking up”, Prof. “This has never been done in Quebec,” Melanchon said. Similarly, although some historians and journalists have recently begun to rehabilitate Maurice Duplessis’ reputation – and Mr Legault himself jokingly compared his party to Duplessis as recently as 2019 – naming him for reactionary authoritarianism. remains a popular shorthand.
Both political camps have started life with, yet again, no self-proclaimed members – but that doesn’t mean they lack weight. In a failed attempt to steal back some thunder from the two rival parties and reaffirm the importance of his political project, party Québécois leader Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon tweeted a photo of himself this week wearing the shirt, which read, “No. So wake up, neither do the duplesists. Libertarians.” Provincial liberals, meanwhile, have been completely off the ground, the traditional standard-bearers of the federalist cause. He had only a slight involvement in the altercation when Mr Legault referred to him as one of two “multiculturalist” parties in the National Assembly.
The low profile of Quebec’s once-major parties, and the issue that has haunted them for decades, is the result of a sea change that has replaced traditional debates about sovereignty in favor of bottom-line skirmishes about immigration and ethnic diversity. has been sidelined. According to Frederic Berard, a political commentator, doctor of law and curriculum instructor at the University of Montreal’s Law School, the shift date is circa 2007. He said it was then that the question of “proper accommodation” of religious minorities came to the fore in political life in the province.
Quebec has since been engulfed by frequent controversies around that topic, from the question of whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear the niqab at citizenship ceremonies, which prompted comments about Quebec’s “discriminatory” religious beliefs during the recent federal election campaign. A debate arbiter welcomed the question. – Symbol law.
These issues, not coincidentally, have emerged amid the long-term collapse of the Party Québécois. Sensing the withering of its traditional goal of an independent Quebec state, the PQ adopted a program of aggressive secularism and the integration of immigrants into the francophone mainstream as an alternative form of national self-assertion, Mr. Berrard said. “There is less trouble in banning the veil than in holding a referendum on freedom.”
Although Quebec’s identifiable shift had local causes, it also paralleled a worldwide move away from traditional definitions of left and right. According to Mark Fortier, a sociologist and publisher, culture and identity have replaced economics as the main vectors of politics in much of the West (as well as the author of a book about reading the work of Matthew Bock-Cote, Chief One of the exponents) Anti-Voicism) in the mass-market Journal de Montréal newspaper.
If “Les Vaux” versus “Les Duplessists” sounds like a storm in a Quebecois teapot, well, it could be part of something bigger. Consider Brexit in the UK and the rise of Donald Trump in the US, Mr Fortier said.
“It’s not just in Quebec… it’s the Quebec version of a phenomenon that permeates all liberal democracies.”
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